Remember the joys of dining out, pre-kids? I can’t either, my friend. While parenthood has brought countless moments of joy to my life, I occasionally miss those delightfully long, relaxed dinners in a restaurant that didn’t offer chicken nuggets or the paper placemats with the word searches on them.
Eating out with kids can be a crap shoot; like Forrest Gump’s famous box of chocolates line, “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
It might actually go smoothly, or it might be a total trainwreck involving multiple spills, a sobbing child, & a premature request for the check so you can hightail it on out of there.
But eating out together is still an important experience for a family to share, and it can be challenging enough to enjoy a meal out with small children without having to worry about the snarky looks of fellow patrons as they judge parents for letting kids use electronic devices in restaurants.
Popular mom duo Cat & Nat posted a public service announcement on their Facebook page urging people to stop judging parents for allowing kids to use electronics in public settings.
And it’s about frigging time!!
If you’ve ever let your child use an electronic device while out in public & gotten “the look” from a nearby sanctimommy, then you know how crappy it is. Being judged by a fellow parent stings, and it’s also blatantly unfair. For someone to assume that they know better than you about what’s appropriate for your child is obnoxiously arrogant.
And that’s exactly what led Cat & Nat to remind people that this kind of judgement is simply not ok. Period.
The post begins with a reminder to “mom judgers” (you know who you are!) out there that may assume that a parent that allows a child to sue electronics while out is a bad mom.
There are many reasons why a child may be permitted to play on electronics while dining out with their family.
Maybe the child is bored. Or restless. Or maybe he or she is autistic & needs a calming, familiar distraction. Perhaps that child has literally no screen time all week at home, & enjoys that brief time in the restaurant as a pleasant exception.
Or maybe, just maybe, the child is playing with a device because his or her parents are:
trying to enjoy a hot meal we spend a lot of money on.
What if there isn’t a more significant reason than that?? Why is that not ok in the eyes of people who are notably not the parents of the child in the first place?
We’re just moms trying to enjoy a hot meal we spend a lot of money on.
Parenthood requires necessary sacrifices, & one of the things that is often sacrificed is the luxury of a delicious HOT meal cooked by someone other than yourself for once.
If you’ve decided to embark on the rare treat of eating out as a family, you want to enjoy it. And if you’ve managed to find something that keeps your child happy & occupied, you may even get to eat a full meal!
The reality is, sometimes an electronic device engages a child enough to allow parents to relax & actually enjoy a few bites of a meal that they haven’t had to cook and serve themselves.
We spend most of the time standing at a sink serving kids food they don’t eat, eating their leftovers, so give all moms a break.
While we’re not martyrs, we’re also human. We moms deserve a treat now & then, & shouldn’t have to wait until the stars align -meaning, the babysitter is free, you have enough energy, and no kid suddenly throws up minutes before leaving- to go out to eat.
And while stale scraps of grilled cheese & lukewarm chicken nuggets can almost make a meal, every mom deserves a break from hastily scarfing kid leftovers now & then, you know?
Judgy folk often make the argument that allowing children to use electronic devices while eating out limits the amount of “healthy” conversation & social interaction for children while dining out with their parents.
But here’s the thing:
And not to worry our kids can carry a conversation, actually a little too much.
We also get in lots of “one to one and direct eye contact” ….like all the rest of the hours in the day that we’re not at a restauranT.
Our kids know how to carry on conversations. Like, a LOT. In fact, life with kids typically involves an insanely high amount of verbiage being shared with us by our kids on a daily basis. They not only know how to interact with their family, but do it all.the.time.
So a few minutes of not interacting while eating in a restaurant isn’t going to hamper a kid’s social skills permanently, or relegate them to an impaired ability to converse with others while eating out.
It’s going to be ok, sanctimommies. Slow your roll; my kid can use my iPhone during this dinner. And maybe the next one will be strictly no-electronics & solely conversation. Because it’s the parent’s right to decide. Not yours.
So smile at that mom, raise a toast to her for braving leaving the house with her tribe,
I applaud any parents of young kids that are brave enough to try and dine out with them. It’s certainly not easy, even if they’re on their best behavior- because they’re KIDS. They’re unpredictable, and occasionally messy.
…because it’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen when you take the wild ones out. ?
Exactly. Embarking on a night out with the kids in tow can be unpredictable at best, so we do what we can & hope for the best.
The most significant lesson that Cat & Nat’s post wisely emphasizes is that you truly can’t (and shouldn’t) judge another family’s decisions based on what you think you’re seeing.
The reality is, you don’t know their children. You don’t know the reasoning behind why they do what they do. You don’t know how that parent feels, or how that child feels in that moment, either.
And even if you did, guess what? It’s still not your place to decide what’s best for that child. Period.
As a parent, I have a hell of a lot of compassion for the moms & dads that are trying to enjoy their food at a table with squirming kids. Instead of judging them for letting their kids play quietly on electronic devices, I’m genuinely happy that Mom and Dad can hang out with their kids and still eat a nice meal in peace.
PSA: Don’t be a judgy parent. And do whatever works for YOU in your parenting.